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COVID-19 Key Updates 16 April 2020

Updates for the NI Museum Sector

16 April 2020

UK Museum Accreditation Scheme

NI Museums Council and our UK Accreditation partners, Arts Council England, the Welsh Government and Museums Galleries recognise that many museums are closing their sites due to the impact of Covid-19 and in response to Government advice.

In order to support the sector during these unprecedented times all Accredited museums in the UK will have their current award status extended for an additional 12 months. We are also postponing all future Accreditation Panel meetings, including the upcoming meeting scheduled for 28 April 2020.


AIM Online Surgeries for Independent Museums

NI Museums Council is collaborating with the Association of Independent Museums (AIM) to provide free online advice surgeries to those museums who are also members of AIM.

All relevant museums have been contacted.


The National Archives

The National Archives has new web pages covering Covid-19 advice and guidance for the archives sector.


Government Announcements - Funding

The Chancellor announced £750m in funding for the charity sector; £60M for devolved nations (approx. £11-£15M for NI)


NI Museums Council – Collecting for the Future Fund – still open!

This funding programme is supported by the Esmé Mitchell Trust.

Please note this funding programme is still open.


National Lottery Heritage Fund – Applications open for

The NL Heritage Fund is providing a package of support for the heritage sector as a response to the coronavirus (COVID-19) crisis.

This includes increased advice and support, longer-term skills and capacity building initiatives, and a £50 million Heritage Emergency Fund to provide emergency funding for those most in need.

They are also currently developing longer-term support and more information on this will be available soon.

The Heritage Emergency Fund is accepting applications for funding from £3,000 to £50,000. The application form is now available, and you will be able to apply until 30 June 2020.


Art Fund

All Art Fund grant programmes are currently still open. Small Project Grants provide funding to help test new ways of working that will benefit audiences, whilst Network Grants provide funding to support professional networks, including SSNs, in sharing expertise and knowledge.


Esmée Fairburn Collections Fund – still open


Paul Hamlyn Foundation Contingency Fund

The Paul Hamlyn Foundation has created a £20 million Emergency Fund, in addition to the £30 million already allocated to their grant-making programmes for 2020/2021.


Job Retention Scheme

The updated guidance is available at, and provides further written clarity on who can be furloughed, what wage cost is covered by the scheme, confirmation that rotational furloughing is possible and that furloughed employees can work for a different employer.


Hospitality, Tourism and Retail Grant

The Hospitality, Tourism and Retail Grant opened on Monday 20th April, and will take around 15 working days to process. Applicants can apply on the NI business info site when the scheme opens: The £25,000 one-off grant will be available to ratepayers in the hospitality, tourism and retail sectors who pay rates on a property with a rateable value between £15,001 and £51,000. Note this scheme will also close on Wednesday 20th May.


Self-employment Income Support Scheme

On Easter Tuesday HMRC provided further guidance on the Self-employment Income Support Scheme (“SEISS”), which is available to individuals who are self-employed, or members of a partnership, in the UK and have lost income due to coronavirus.


Small Business Rates Relief Grant

The Department for the Economy has confirmed that the £10k Small Business Rates Relief Grant will be extended to those businesses that have a rateable value of less than £15k and benefit from industrial de rating. This will be welcome news for small manufacturing businesses who should now qualify for this grant. Note this scheme will close on Wednesday 20th May.


HMRC business support videos

 HMRC is delivering a programme of webinars on the measures to support employers, people and self-employed individuals. 

  •  You can watch a video of the recorded webinar on the HMRC YouTube channel. 
  •  You can also register to attend a free webinar to learn more about the support available to help you deal with the economic impacts of coronavirus.


Claim back Statutory Sick Pay paid to employees due to coronavirus

 The Coronavirus Statutory Sick Pay Rebate Scheme will repay employers the current rate of SSP that they pay to current or former employees for periods of sickness starting on or after 13 March 2020.